Facebook has just issued a new version of its Android app, but this update brings a lot more than shinier buttons and snappier features. In fact, the new Facebook for Android is set up to act as a distribution channel for all kinds of other Android apps.
“With the latest update to Facebook for Android, we are bringing social app discovery channels to native Android apps,” writes Facebooker Alex Wu on the company’s developer blog.
“Users can now discover native apps directly from Facebook for Android using the same social channels, such as Requests, Bookmarks, and News Feed, that are available on other platforms.”
Wu notes that the Facebook app for iOS already includes such capabilities, and that the Facebook Android app allows for discovery of mobile web apps as well.
In recent conversations with Facebook’s mobile-developer relations team members, VentureBeat learned that Facebook wants to become an important distribution mechanism for developers — mobile web developers, iOS developers, Android developers, everybody who makes apps for phones and tablets.
“Whether I’m reading a newspaper article or eating a particular type of food… those types of stories are driving engagement,” said Facebook employee James Pierce in one such recent chat at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters.
“Now on mobile, of course, we allow developers to configure how the user clicks that story, where that’s going to land. Is it going to launch a mobile web app, or the native app already installed on that device? Or to the marketplace where they can download that app?”
Facebook is, in a nutshell, giving developers as many options as possible to get more distribution and more traffic through Facebook’s own ecosystem — and shoring up its stature in the mobile world isn’t hurting as the company walks (slowly) up to its IPO later this year.